Children’s social care complaints

The Children and Families Service provides a wide range of services for children, young people and their families. If you are satisfied or unsatisfied with the service you have received, with a member of staff, or with some other aspect of our work, please let us know.


The Children’s Rights Officer

Children and young people wishing to make a complaint can get support from our in-house advocacy service, the Children’s Rights Officer (CRO). They can help you get issues fixed, make a formal complaint, talk to your social worker or speak on your behalf. You can ask your Hackney social worker or practitioner to speak to the CRO on your behalf, or you can contact them yourself at or on 020 8356 2444.

What to do if you are not satisfied

Please talk to your practitioner (for example, a social worker) or their manager first of all. Many issues are best and more quickly addressed through the professionals you are already working with.

If you are still not satisfied, you may wish to make a formal complaint. Some complaints may come under the Council’s corporate complaints procedures, but most complaints about children’s social care will be dealt under the statutory Children Act complaint process. This is explained in detail getting the best from complaints. There are 4 possible stages to the process:

Stage 1: local resolution 

To make a formal complaint about the Children and Families Service, please email or tel 020 8356 5800.

We encourage people to make their own complaint wherever possible, but if you are unable or unwilling to do so, we may take a complaint from a representative, such as a relative, friend or other professional.

At this stage, we will discuss your complaint with you and ask you to agree a written statement of complaint that details your issues clearly and what you would like us to do to fix them. Once the statement of complaint is agreed, the local investigation will begin.

A stage 1 complaint will usually be investigated by a member of the complaints team who will send you a formal response within 10 or 20 working days depending on the work involved in investigating the issues.

Stage 2: investigation

If you are not satisfied with the response at stage 1, you should contact the complaints team and explain what you are unhappy about. We will then formally investigate those aspects of your stage 1 complaint with which you are still unsatisfied.

The stage 2 investigation is usually conducted by a senior manager from within the Children and Families Service who is not involved in your case and an investigator independent of the Council. They will each write a report which goes to the head of service responsible for your case to write an adjudication letter responding to your complaint based on the findings of the two investigators.

Stage 2 investigations can take up to 65 working days to complete.

Stage 3: review panel 

If you are dissatisfied with the stage 2 response, you can request escalation of your issue to a stage 3 review panel. This request must be made within 20 working days of receipt of the stage 2 response. The review panel will normally meet within 30 working days of your request, and will be made up of 3 independent panel members, one of whom will chair the meeting.

The complainant, the Children Act complaints manager and the stage 2 investigators usually attend the review panel. The review tends to last around 2 hours and will look into whether the stage 2 investigation was fair, thorough and appropriate.

You can also ask your advocate, someone in your family or a friend to speak on your behalf or to accompany you. The review panel will send their report and recommendations to you and the Director of the Children and Families Service within 5 working days of the meeting. The Director of the Children and Families Service will then send you an adjudication letter with their final decisions within 15 working days of receiving the review panel’s recommendations.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

If you are still not happy with the response from the Council, you can escalate your complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

Page updated on: 18 August 2023

Children and Young People’s Access and Assessment Social Work Service


Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman Street
E8 1DY


If you want to talk to us about a child who is being privately fostered, call 020 8356 5500, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm or email